Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
A Modern Eclogue
By Josias Lyndon Arnold (1768–1796)
  CARYL the barber, and his wife, of late
Had, journeying homeward, words of high debate;
He long had lived suspicious of the fair;
(“To jealous bosoms, trifles light as air
Are confirmations strong”) yet ne’er had been        5
So prompt before to charge her with the sin.
The Muse was by, and, pleased with such rare sport,
Has told the dialogue in this here sort.
  At three new Boston shopsters have I tried,
And bought a chintz would ornament a bride;        10
This bosom-pin, this locket tied with blue,
I bought for Susan, thinking she was true:
But, ah! for all my love what sad return,
Since you for swains beside your Caryl burn.
’T is well I saw you not—these eyes had flow’d        15
Away in tears, and I had lifeless stood.
How times have alter’d since I first thee knew!
How am I left the wedding day to rue!
Ah, luckless Caryl! Susan, faithless fair,
Has soil’d her fame, and sunk thee to despair!        20
  ’Tis true, O Caryl, times have alter’d quite,
Since first you kiss’d me on the nuptial night;
Indeed they ’ve alter’d in four seasons gone;
But charge not me—the fault is all thy own.
While stood our cot on Bagley’s fertile plain,        25
I was thy nymph, and thou my only swain.
Then in thy presence brighten’d every scene,
More red the rose grew, and the grass more green
Soon as the sun from eastern skies arose,
We left our leafy couch and sweet repose;        30
Then did I first beneath the ashes hide
Twice twenty rough-skins, and our meal provide;
Then swept—and to my spinning-wheel sat down,
Nor envied her who wears a golden crown;
And when at noon, with labor spent and heat,        35
Thou didst, O Caryl, to thy cot retreat,
I cheer’d thee fainting with a cup of whey,
From Comstock’s brought, and fann’d the heat away.
How often then, attest ye stars above,
Did Susan, breadless, make a meal on love.        40
How oft did she refrain from every crust,
Though pinch’d with hunger, and, to quench thy thirst,
To thee, O Caryl, all the whey resign’d,
Contented always while her swain was kind.
How oft, O sun, within yon pine-tree grove,        45
Hast thou heard Caryl tell me tales of love;
And when thou, hastening down the western sky,
Didst seek at eve in Thetis’ lap to lie,
Then did we to our humble cot repair,
And seek for rest and satisfaction there.        50
But now, alas! the happy glass is run,
Caryl is faithless—Susan is undone.
  Stay, Susan, stay; from all reproach refrain,
And prove me faithless, ere thou dost complain.
Here Caryl stands, a pure and spotless youth,        55
(So heaven preserve me as I speak the truth)
Here stands he—pure as thou, my lovely bride,
Six months before the nuptial knot was tied;
But say’st thou this thy own disgrace to cure?
Ha! that’s a trick I never will endure.        60
I ’ll beat thee, Susan, for thou art my wife;
I ’ll beat thee, though I love thee as my life.
  Stay, Caryl, stay; thy beating love restrain,
And I ’ll unfold the reasons why I ’plain.
When first, on fame and worldly riches bent,        65
Thee to Pawtucket thy base genius sent,
Then fled the sunshine of my former life,
And fortune frown’d on Caryl’s faultless wife;
When at thy shop three customers a day
Were shaved, and each his coppers three did pay;        70
How didst thou strut, and talk, and look as big
As old M’Laughlin in his horse-tail wig.
E’en then I saw some symptoms of disdain,
And thought thee colder than my country swain.
But when to every house in town you run,        75
And shaved and dress’d them every mother’s son,
Then money rattled in your once lank purse,
And all was prinking, pranking, mince and fuss.
Now Caryl drinks with gentry, and carouses
At gaming tables and at brothel houses.        80
Now oft at midnight Susan opes the door,
And lets him in, a traveller on all four.
  Take that—you hussy, for your lie.—
                  Have done.
  I have, you baggage; now you may go on.
  Then your affection to decay began,
And first I knew th’ inconstancy of man.
But still your love I did not cease to prize,
And tried to make me pleasing in your eyes.
When you came home and call’d me swarthy brown,        90
And said such colors would not do in town,
Did I not try, at morning, noon and night,
And wash and scour and labor to be white?
Did I not eat of pipe-stems near a gross,
And take of herb-drinks many a bitter dose?        95
Devour raw rice and paper—Indian meal,
And chalk—as much as ever I could steal?
And when, in scorn, “d—n such a shape,” you cried,
Did I not lace me till I almost died?
Yet still I fail’d—you sought another fair,        100
And Dermot saw you, Caryl, you know where.
You loathed my love, your Susan’s arms you fled,
And cruel left me in a lonely bed;
A female weakness then usurp’d my breast;
I sought revenge—my tears must tell the rest.        105
  Dermot was false, and all he told thee lies;
But I forgive thee, Susan; wipe thine eyes.
  This is the only reason I can give
For my past conduct; but with thee I ’ll live
In future, Caryl, spotless as the dove,        110
And faithful as the redbreast to her love.
But now let’s leave this vile Pawtucket town,
And in the country once more settle down:
Let’s move our hut to Bagley’s fertile plain,
And dwell in love and happiness again.        115

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